Jul 28, 2014

New Electronic Community Sign Flickers to Life Downtown

Message board at corner of South Water Street, Haymaker Parkway will promote city and university.

New Electronic Community Sign Flickers to Life Downtown

City officials hit the switch on downtown Kent's new electronic community sign Tuesday to start sending messages to drivers and pedestrians at the intersection of South Water Street and Haymaker Parkway.

Kent City Manager Dave Ruller said electricians powered up the message board Tuesday morning.

"We spent the day testing different messages and photos of Kent to see how it looks on the big screen," he said.

Ruller's executive assistant in the city manager's office will manage the sign and its messages.

"We're experimenting to see what looks good on the screen," Ruller said. "After a couple of hours of working through options I feel like we've started to get an idea for how quickly to cycle messages and what types of graphics work best. We're looking to keep it simple but also professional, attractive and informative."

Construction of the sign cost $92,000 and was split between the city and and Kent State University. Cleveland-based firm Brilliant Electric Sign Co. built the message board.

The sign will promote events and messages for both the city and university.

Initially messages on the board will only be related to events that the city or Kent State are affiliated with or directly sponsor.

Words and images that flashed on the board's first day of operation included "Welcome to Kent" messages and congratulations to the Kent State Golden Flashes' historic football season.

Events sponsored by the city that you can expect to see promoted on the sign will include Downtown Innovative Community Events, via Standing Rock Cultural Arts, Main Street Kent and Kent Area Chamber of Commerce events.

In the future, the sign may be adapted to include messages for any of the city's several service groups, such as the Kent Lions Club.

"Until we have some experience with managing this process we would like to avoid putting ourselves in situations where we say 'no' to one group but 'yes' to another without some clear policy explanation," Ruller said.

"I think we'll be able to cover just about all of the typical community events that occur downtown, and with everything going on at the campus we'll have plenty of functions to post," he said.

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